A man barricaded himself alone in a shoe store near the Manhattan Beach pier Saturday evening, causing police to evacuate much of the city's normally lively downtown.
Officers from neighboring cities, police sharpshooters and hostage negotiators fanned through the area for several hours.
Police Lt. Tony DiGenova said officers got a call shortly after 5 p.m. about a possible robbery at a Skechers store.
A man had entered the store and begun talking to an employee, possibly about a job.
"We think there was a conversation going on that eventually came to the point where a threat was made," DiGenova said.
The two employees fled; there apparently were no customers in the store at the time, he said.
Officers could not determine whether the man was armed, but they were talking to him by telephone throughout the evening.
Aided by reinforcements from El Segundo, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, police quickly moved into the area, escorting merchants away and waving off would-be restaurant-goers.
The pier and half-block sections north and south of the site were closed as officers took up stations on rooftops.
"It was the strangest thing," said Nick Phillips, 30, of North Hollywood, who had driven to Manhattan Beach with his girlfriend to get burgers.
"We parked here and the thing we noticed most were snipers on the roofs."